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Spicy pickled okra

Okra: people either love it or hate it. But okra and I have a more complicated relationship. My head tells me that I don’t like okra—I find it slimy and strange. But if you present me with a plate of fried okra or a jar of pickled okra, I’ll eat it—happily and greedily.

I come late to okra, which belies my Southern heritage, I know. I only started eating fried okra a few years ago (though have since made up for much lost time) and pickled okra is an even more recent addition to my table.

A Texan friend had called me, thrilled that she had found “Talk O’ Texas” brand of pickled okra at a New York grocery store. I must have not expressed the appropriate amount of enthusiasm for her discovery because she said, “What’s wrong, don’t you like okra pickles?”

I admitted that I had never even tried them before, I was so adamantly against the vegetable. She chided me and told me that my attitude needed to change as I was missing out on a very good thing.

Spicy pickled okra | Homesick Texan

It wasn’t until last October that I finally took the okra-pickle plunge. I was at the annual Southern Foodways Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi and during a gumbo luncheon, jars of Tabasco spicy pickled okra were offered as gifts. None of my table mates wanted their jars and since I hate to see good food go to waste, I ended up with several jars of the pickles.

That night, after enjoying myself a bit too much, I ended up in my motel room hungry. Having only the pickles on hand, I decided that they would have to suffice. But surprisingly, I found them more than adequate—I actually enjoyed eating them and was thankful that I had more than one jar as I learned that I my friend was correct—pickled okra is indeed a very good thing.

Okra pickles are especially refreshing right now. Cold and crisp, I like to toss them into salads, dip them in hummus or use as a garnish in a glass of vegetable juice. You can fry them, too. There are still slight texture issues—yes, that’s a slight hint of softness in the center of each pod—but I find that the tang of the vinegar and fire of the chiles used in the brine make up for what I normally find unappealing.

And if you see red okra, definitely grab some. It’s a bit drier than the green okra and makes for an especially fine pickle—plus it turns the brine a rosy shade.

Spicy pickled okra | Homesick Texan

I’m not going to chide you if you don’t like okra—I realize opinions on it are heated. But no matter how you feel, do yourself a favor and at least try these spicy okra pickles. Who knows, you might even change your mind.

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4.82 from 27 votes

Spicy pickled okra

Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 pints
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds okra, stems trimmed
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup fresh dill
  • 4 serrano chiles, cut in half, lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons chile flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Evenly divide between 4 sterilized pint-sized jars the okra, dill, Serrano chiles and garlic cloves.
  • Bring the vinegar and spices to a boil and pour into the jars. Fill up the rest of the jar with water.
  • Let cool (about half an hour) and then cover and refrigerate.
  • Will be ready in a day and will keep in the refrigerator for a few months, though they probably won’t last that long.

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63 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    On the pickled okra recipe, it says put okra in jars, add brine, fill with water. So, do you fill it halrways with brine and the rest water? Or? How much brine and how much water, in other words, per jar. We pronounced okra: "okrie" …growing up in Ft. Bend Co. Texas

  2. Lisa Fain says:

    Anon–About 3/4 cup of brine per pint jar, the rest of the jar with water.

  3. My sister brought me Rick's Pick's smoked hot pickled okra a while back from Brooklyn. It was funny because neither of us eat okra, but I was shocked to find I loved it! And I'm really glad to have found your recipe, it's otherwise going to get expensive.

  4. [æʃliː sowlis] says:

    I've lived most of my life in Texas (both of my parents too) so I have grown up eating pickled and fried okra since before I can remember. Hell, that's the only reason why we ever went to Church's chicken. In fact, when I went to college in Missouri and found a jar at the local walmart (unfortunately mild) I was beyond thrilled. Only two girls (Texan and Okie) had ever heard of it, which I remember finding shocking! This was such a huge part of my childhood that it never occurred to me that it might be a regional thing XD

  5. Tom Kurth says:

    This recipe for pickled okra puzzles me. All vinegar, no water? Most pickle brines dilute the vinegar. Is this correct or possibly an omission? Thanks
    Tom

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Tom–There is water, it’s in the second step of the method. “Bring the vinegar and spices to a boil and pour into the jars. Fill up the rest of the jar with water.” I don’t give an exact amount because it’s based on what’s in the jars.